Saturday’s American Revolution Game with Piquet & Cartouche

August 26, 2017

This is my last weekend before my college’s fall semester begins (I’m a History professor). So I thought I would get in one more game as this is probably the last weekend I’ll have two days off for several months. I have always wanted to try the Piquet variant where you hold cards in your hand rather than playing them one at a time. So I gave it a try with the same scenario and forces as my last game.

The first time I tried it, I realized that the system as written in the Piquet rules burnt off too much impetus as you had to pay 1 impetus point to put a card in your hand and and then another impetus point to play or discard it. I got through one turn and realized that this would result in turns ending quicker due to the higher number of phases and thus more chances to roll double initiative and thus end the turn. So I reset the game and tried again, but this time I decided only to pay 1 impetus point per card put into the hand. Playing or discarding a card was free. I also decided to start each play with cards equal to their hand, in this case 4 (same as maximum command groups) plus 1 for being Skilled commanders for a total of 5 cards as the maximum in the hand. The turn ended when all cards had been played from a player’s hand and deck, no saving cards in your hand from one turn to the next.

The result was the best Piquet game I have played. No longer were you just waiting on getting the card you needed. You could build your hand based on your plan. If you need to move an infantry brigade up to the enemy and shoot them and then melee them, you could build a hand with an infantry move in open card, a reload card, a melee card, and just in case things went bad, an officer check card. The system allowed each side to often do that. There were still bad hands, like one turn in which the American player got dealt 3 Dress line cards out of 5 cards in his hand to start the turn. Also hands got depleted as players used those cards for planned actions, meaning they had to spend impetus points to reload their hands for their next plan. This really made having a Brilliant Commander card in your hand very valuable as you could use it for anything.

I also allowed players to hold onto Heroic Moment cards and play them anytime to add Up1 to a fire, melee, or morale check. I got this idea from how a similar card works in Piquet: Field of Battle. A player could also use a Heroic Moment card to double the move of one unit.

A further variation I used is to make units that have suffered 1 or more hits from fire combat to take a morale check. The opposing play does not have to play a chip to do this, but if the unit fails the morale check, that side must pay a morale chip.

Unlike my last game where the British won, this was a hard won American victory. At times both sides had run out of army morale chips, but neither side failed their Major Morale check as both sides had the same number of units eliminated or routing. The game went on for 10 turns, and then I ended it as the British were withdrawing and the Americans would not catch them.

The British deployed with the British Legion on their right and center, with the British regular brigade as the reserve:

The British deployed the Guards’ Brigade on their left in hopes that it could turn the American right:

The American left was held by Pulaski’s Legion (two infantry and one cavalry unit):

The American center was held by the French brigade, the Maryland brigade, and the better (Davidson’s) militia brigade:

The weak element for the Americans was their right flank, which was held by the poorer quality militia brigade. I had both sides roll for which had to set up first, the Americans lost and had to set up first, which is why the British were able to deploy against the weaker American flank.

Here is the American starting hand of five cards. In a two player game, both players would keep their cards hidden from the other player. Not a bad starting hand of five cards.

Here is the British starting hand of five cards, again I dealt each side a hand of cards at the start of each turn. Also a decent hand to start the first turn with.

Turn 1 saw both sides advance, the British concentrating their efforts on the American right:

Both sides continued to advance in Turn 2.

Turn 3 saw the British Guards’ Brigade turn the American right flank (the poor quality militia brigade):

In the center, both sides advanced:

Skirmishing took place on the American left flank:

Morale chips were quickly spent and this is what each side had left after Turn 3 (red = British and white = American):

Turn 4 saw the Americans move the Maryland Brigade to meet the British threat:

The Guards’ Light Infantry unit flanked a militia unit, note the other militia unit already routing:

The Maryland Brigade engaged the Guards’ Brigade:

That resulted in one routing Guards’ battalion:

Turn 5 saw the Maryland Brigade destroy most of the Guards’ Brigade, but by the end of the turn the Americans had 1 Army morale chip and the British had zero!

Turn 6 saw the British Guards’ Light Infantry end up right in front of a heavy concentration of American forces in the center:

Forward went the British reserves of the British regular brigade:

Turn 7 saw the American Maryland Extra Regiment rout the British Guards’ Light Infantry (ouch that cost a lot of British army morale chips):

By the start of Turn 8, the British had two army morale chips (got them back by damaging the Americans who ran out of army morale chips). The focus of the game switched to the center:

The Americans sent Pulaski’s cavalry in a flanking move on the British right:

By Turn 9, neither side had any army morale chips. The Americans realized that they had forgotten about Pulaski’s infantry (they literally got overlooked in the trees) and sent them forward to support the dragoons:

Pulaski’s infantry caused a two stand lost on the British infantry facing the cavalry, but when the cavalry charged, they were destroyed in the melee by the defending infantry (the 7th Regiment of Foot)!

The British Legion infantry moved forward and were charged by a squadron of the 3rd dragoons. The squadron of the 3rd dragoons was eliminated by fire from the British Legion infantry:

By the start of Turn 10, the Americans had three army morale chips, most gained from destroying the remnants of the British Guards’ Brigade. This off set their losses in the center and their left. The British attempted to withdraw with the rear guard of a single infantry battalion:

This time Greene (the American commander) was the victor:

The French Brigade finally got into action, even losing one infantry stand:

Casualties were heavy on both sides, here are the British losses:

Here are the American losses:

Again, this was a solo game so I supplied all the figures (15mm) and took the pictures.

This was one of the best games of Piquet I have ever played. I highly recommend using the Alternative Sequence Deck Method found on page 68 of the rules with the revisions I noted above. This really made Piquet a game of planning and less of a game of waiting on the card you needed to be turned over.

Now back to painting. I have also gotten a set of rules for Zombie games, No More Room in Hell by Iron Ivan Games that I have read and want to give a try. I have also purchased and read Chain of Command by Too Fat Lardies and I hope to give that a try in the future as well.

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Friday’s Piquet – Cartouche American Revolution Game

August 26, 2017

I enjoyed my last American Revolution game with Piquet & the Cartouche supplement, but after rereading both the Piquet Master rules and the Cartouche supplement, I realized that I had made an error in terms of movement. I had forgotten that infantry in open order line and skirmish get to move through Class II woods at full speed. That made a big different as in the game I wondered why anyone would really want to use open line as it seemed to not be that much more effective than close order line. Then I reread the Cartouche supplement and saw my error. The irony is that I was part of the Cartouche playtest, and the rule about infantry in open order line moving at full speed in Class II woods was probably my suggestion.

I had the same terrain and forces as my last Piquet game. Using the rule for open order movement in woods really sped up the game. It gave open order a real use, which is why it was the defacto formation for American, British, and some German units. It allows infantry units to move through Class II woods at 8″ per activation. That is a lot faster than close order line who move only 3″ per activation in Class II woods (6″ but half speed for Class II terrain). It did highlight to me how limited French troops, whose primary formation is close order line, would be in the more wooded terrain of most American battlefields.

Here is the setup from the American side of the table (click on any image for a larger version):

Here is the setup from the British side:

Here is the cavalry element of Pulaski’s Legion (I don’t know why the bases are not lined up, maybe the cats got to them when I wasn’t looking):

Here is Washington’s “Brigade” (really 2 squadrons of the 3rd Dragoons and 1 squadron of mounted militia):

This shot shows the overall set up from the side:

Cornwallis advances with the Guards’ Brigade:

The British plan was to advance on the American right, which was mostly held by militia. To engage the American left, they deployed the British Legion (a 4 stand infantry unit, three 2 stand cavalry units, and a 1 stand artillery unit):

Here is a close up of the British Legion Infantry:

There were two brigade of American militia; the better one (Davidson’s North Carolina Militia) held the center of the American line with riflemen in the front:

Here the 7th Regiment of Foot of Webster’s Brigade advances:

A large cavalry battle between Washington’s Dragoons and the British Legion took place on the American right wing:

The cavalry engagement went poorly for the 3rd Dragoons, here the remnants of one of its squadrons routs:

Things also went bad for the American Maryland Brigade, here one of its regiments routs:

The Americans failed a Major Morale test; here the French brigade retreats and routs off the table:

One of the regiments of the Maryland Brigade fights a rear guard action to hold off the advancing British Legion:

The British advance with a Guards’ battalion in the lead:

Corwallis enjoys his victory:

While Greene flees with the French Brigade:

The game was played solo, so I provided all of the figures (15mm) and took the photos (some of which are better than others). Piquet did a superior job replicating an American Revolution battle. The Cartouche supplement rules allowing open order infantry to move full in Class II woods, worked very well to make open order the key formation, just like in the real war.


I’m back and playing Piquet – American Revolution

August 20, 2017

After what was probably a six month break from playing games, I’m back with an American Revolution game using Piquet and the Cartouche Supplement. Sorry to be gone so long, but I was suffering from some fatiguing side effects of some medication (now not a problem due to a change in the medication) and my daughter was sick with mono for about six months as well. Like my daughter, I was just too tired to do much other than paint and rebase.

I decided that I liked the look of 4 infantry per stand for Piquet much more than 3 infantry per stand. So that meant a lot of rebasing and painting more figures to fill units out to 16 figure rather than 12 figure infantry units (4 stands). I’m about half way there with the regular infantry. Skirmish infantry and cavalry will stay at 2 figures per stand. Here is an example of a 3 stand American militia unit with 4 figures per stand:

As it has been over six months since I played Piquet, I ran a game (probably too big of one) to reacquaint myself with the rules. The British had three brigades: the Guards Brigade, a regular brigade of three regiments (7th, 33rd and 64th) and the British Legion. The Americans had six brigades: a Maryland Continental brigade, a brigade of French regulars, a brigade of the 3rd dragoons and an attached militia cavalry unit, a brigade with Pulaski’s Legion and a militia skirmisher unit, and two militia brigades. There were 15 British units and 19 American units (not all were regular size, some smaller and a few bigger than standard sized units).

The scenario was fictional, but all of the units were based on units that fought in the Southern campaigns of 1780 and 1781. The first scenario was a meeting engagement with both sides coming onto the table. It was a close game for a while, but then the British got the upper hand and defeated the Americans, who ran out of Army morale chips. The game was a good way to relearn the rules, but I could have probably had less units per side. Here are some pictures from that game:

Initial the Americans got a lot more units on the table than the British, here the Maryland Brigade enters behind a reinforced Pulaksi’s Legion and a militia brigade (click any picture for a larger image):

Pulaski’s Legion seized one end of a brigade that went across a Class II stream:

The British lead element (the British Legion enter):

Many of the American brigades were deploying while the British were still entering the table:

Finally the British Guards Brigade came to hold the British right:

Facing the British Guards Brigade were the French Brigade (two infantry battalions and one artillery unit) and the reinforced 3rd Dragoons:

In the center, the British Legion faced Pulaski’s Legion and a militia brigade:

A newly painted French Dillon Regiment (one battalion) fought its first battle:

In true wargame traditions, the Dillion Regiment managed to rout of the table in its first outing:

The British Guards Brigade deployed on the British right along the stream:

On the British left, the British brigade of regulars attacked the American militia:

The second American militia brigade enters the battle (I kept forgetting to have them come in):

Things got rough for the Americans, and their militia started to rout:

In their first outing in one of my wargames, the British 64th Foot inflicted heavy casualties on the American militia:

The Maryland Brigade faced being cut off, but the Maryland Extra regiment fought a way out for the rest of the brigade to escape through (here the 2nd Maryland Regiment holds off the British flanking attack):

The British Legion dragoons were too late to prevent the American escape:

The casualties piled up (especially for the Americans):

I also played a similar game, but with both sides set up on the table at the start. A description of that will come in the next post.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing this game, even solo. The Piquet rules work very well. They provide some control, but not too much. Also there is a lot of tension with the card system, which adds to the drama and fun. I feel that Piquet produces the most historically representative games of any rules I have played. I like how the actions are not always proportional between both sides (like a game of chess). I remember watching the NBA finals and thinking about how players did not all move the same rate and at the same ratio, which is the same thing that Piquet captures for battles.

 

 


3rd Try at Camden (1780) with Piquet-Cartouche

August 26, 2016

About 30 years ago I went through the United States Army school for infantry lieutenants (Infantry Officer Basic Course). In that course, we read a book titled, The Defence of Duffer’s Drift (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Defence_of_Duffer%27s_Drift). From what I remember of the book, the author took the reader through the planning of a defensive position. Each time he would point out flaws in the plan and fix them. The book was effective in teaching lieutenants how to think about all aspects of the military planning, including looking for flaws that could be corrected. As my game of Camden was still set up, I decided to give it another go based on what I had learned from the two games of it I had played recently.

For both sides, I realized that firing at enemy troops in open order in light woods (Class II terrain in Piquet) as not that effective as both the open order and Class II terrain were a Down 1 fire modifier. That reduced a d10 fire value to d6. Even worse, many of the American militia units started with a d8 fire value, which reduced them to d4 when firing at British in open order in the woods at normal range. That showed me that the British could and should move to melee combat as soon as possible, especially given the higher quality of many British units and the masses of low quality American militia present. For the Americans, I realized that it was best to use Armand’s command as a second or third line force given the small size of the units; they were good for skirmishing, but didn’t last long in the line of battle. In my second game, Armand’s command was in the front line, and was quickly destroyed by larger British units, which was costly in Army morale chips and units lost.

The American set up on the right and center was three lines: two of militia and one of Continentals. The extreme left was Armand’s command, which was designed to guard the American flank and threaten the British right if they broke through the American center.

The American Right Wing: (click on the pictures for larger images)

American Right Wing

The American Center:

American Center

Armand’s Command on the American Left:

Armand's Command

The British set up with their regular brigade and reserve brigade on their left:

British Left Set Up

Rawdon’s loyalist and militia brigade was on the British Right:

British Right Set Up

Here is a picture of the overall British set-up:

British Set Up

In the game, the British advanced on both flanks, and were able to defeat the American militia with only minimal casualties. Rather quickly, the Americans ran out of Army morale chips. This was a disaster for the Americans as the lost units put a Major Morale Check card in their deck. By turn 4, the Americans were out of Army morale chips and forced to take a Major Morale Check. With no Army morale chips to spend, each American unit had to check morale. Some of the militia and even one of the Continental units failed and retreat. Likewise, the previously unengaged American cavalry started to fall back. Three Continental units and a single militia unit fought a rearguard, but it was ineffective due to the addition of Dress Lines cards in their deck for each unit lost (up to 11 Dress Lines cards were added by turn 5). By the end of Turn 5, the Americans had clearly lost and the game was over.

Again, Piquet worked exceptionally well in terms of command and army morale. The better quality overall commander of the British (Cornwallis) was able to make good use of his two Brilliant Commander cards, while the Americans suffered several times from losing key initiative when Gates’ Command Indecision card came up. I also really liked how the game represented the collapse of the American Army, it almost mirrored the actual events. I still need to review the rules before I play Piquet again to check a few issues, but it was a great game. Piquet works exceptionally well for solo games. I had an overall plan for each side, but the cards dictated when I could implement those plans far better than a you-go, I-go rule system.

Here are some more photos from the game (I was too involved and interested in the game to take many mid-game photos):

American Artillery that dominated the main road through the woods:

American Artillery

American Militia await the British attack:

American Militia 2

The British 71st Highland Regiment advances:

British 71st

British Legion Infantry and militia of Rawdon’s Command:

British Legion & Militia Support

The British Legion Dragoons in reserve (behind Rawdon’s Brigade):

British Legion Dragoons

At the end of the game, the British Legion Dragoons swept the American flank:

British Legion in Pursuit

The American rearguard:

American Continentals & Militia

The American “dead” pile:

Dead American Stands

Another victory for Cornwallis:

Cornwallis 2

The game was played with 15mm figures (from Blue Moon, Minifigs, Old Glory and Polly Oliver). I use 3/4ths size stands and rulers, so the normal 5′ x 8′ map fit on a 4′ x 6′ table.


American Revolution Strength Returns for 1777 in the New York Public Library Digital Collection.

August 23, 2016

1st NH Return

While doing a bit of Google-Fu on the Internet, I found that there were several strength returns for American units in the 1777 Northern Campaign among the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection. I have never seen most of these referenced in a secondary source, so they were quite a find. Here are the ones that I could find:

John Ashley’s (1st Berkshire Massachusetts) Militia Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4701-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1 (This is a very rare militia unit strength return)

1st New Hampshire Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-470b-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1

3rd New Hampshire Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4768-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1

Nixon’s (Massachusetts) Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bb4ebb8a-0c7a-c85e-e040-e00a18063bc4

Brewer’s (Massachusetts) Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bdccf4f5-5f3d-c2ff-e040-e00a180602bc

Marshall’s (Massachusetts) Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4718-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1

Alden’s (Massachusetts) Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bb266ec4-a662-320d-e040-e00a180616a6

Bailey’s (Massachusetts) Regiment (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4707-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1

Learned’s Brigade (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bb266ec4-a64f-320d-e040-e00a180616a6

(the first regiment is van Schaick’s 1st New York Regiment – the writing is not very clear, but the comments below make it clear as to which unit it is as van Schaick had been sent to Tyron County to raise the militia.)

Schuyler army-level return (July 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4704-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1

Gates army-level return (October 1777): http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bdccbd8c-b350-decc-e040-e00a180601a7

American Casualties at First Saratoga (September 1777):  http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bad6720b-4716-a00b-e040-e00a18067aa1